Academic Blogging Part 2: What is my blogging mission?

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Now you’ve decided to give blogging ago, you need to make a few plans. You need to identify the subject of your blog, the kinds of posts you want to write, and how you want to write them.

This is your editorial mission and the best blogs usually have some kind of framework to them to keep the content flowing. This could be something as simple as saying: I will try to write a post once a week, and if there is any news or updates regarding my personal research I will also then do a quick update post. But even in this relatively simple set up there are a few things to keep in mind.

Who is the core audience? – Are you writing for academics, are you writing to communicate ideas to none-academics, are you looking to apply your work to topical and current events? Each of these choices will affect the language you use, how you structure posts, when you publish them.

What will you deliver to them? – What is your blog trying to convey and how? Is your blog going to simply be brief updates on events and funding your group has received, or are you going to write more in-depth pieces that are going to highlight the work you’re doing in a more engaging way and as a result will be more example orientated.
What is the desired outcome? – Do you want to start a dialogue with other academics and get feedback? Do you want to highlight areas of your work and expand on them? Do you want to apply your work to current events so that you can exploit trending or seasonal topics to boost your visibility and newsworthiness?

Once you’ve had a think about these you can begin to put your editorial plan into action. You don’t have to post straight away. Take the time to sit and write ideas for posts down, look at your calendar and see what is coming up in the future and brainstorm. Then start your first post – this may only be a quick introduction laying out your plans for the blog, or it may be something from your list that you want to jump straight into.

What if I can’t think of anything to blog about?

This is the most common question and even professional bloggers may sit and scratch their heads trying to come up with a post. But with the vastness of the blogosphere today, there is no reason you can’t read through other sites and blogs to see what they have been writing about and add your spin on that subject.

One important tool to use is collaboration. There is no reason why one blog has to equal one voice. If your research group has a blog page, all your contributors can be submitting content on a monthly rota – this could be a think piece relevant to the subject, a review of a conference, wider academic concerns, advice to your students or other colleagues, you could write a response to another blog post / article you’ve seen, you could even expand your lecture notes or condense a journal article into a post.
Strong examples of Academic Blogs – These are not all Social Science specific blogs but rather ones that show off the range of what you can do on either theme specific blogs or personal ones:

http://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk

http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/socialresearch/

http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/publicsocialpolicy/

http://www.cambridgeblog.org

http://ihawkes.academicblogs.co.uk

http://blog.regehr.org

http://blog.geomblog.org

https://rjlipton.wordpress.com

http://www.literature.hss.ed.ac.uk

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